Carlisle United defender Rhys Bennett and boss Chris Beech have been shortlisted for monthly awards.

Centre-half Bennett is among the four nominees for the League Two player of the month prize.

And head coach Beech has picked up a second manager of the month nomination this season.

The pair's appearance on the December Sky Bet shortlists comes after Carlisle surged into serious promotion contention.

Bennett, 29, has played a hugely influential part in United's form and he is up against Walsall's Wes McDonald, Morecambe's Carlos Mendes-Gomes and Crawley's Max Watters for the award.

The judges' citation on Bennett - whose deal United are hoping to extend this month - says: "After a fitful, nomadic career, the cultured defender is enjoying life at the heart of an attacking Carlisle side.

"A strong leader at the back, he also found time to contribute two headed goals, including the winner at Bradford."

Beech, meanwhile, is competing with Southend's Mark Molesley, Morecambe's Derek Adams and Crawley's John Yems for the manager of the month gong.

His citation reads: "The upward trend continues at Brunton Park. The Carlisle players are clearly enjoying Beech’s methods with seven different goalscorers contributing to their 11 goals in six games [in December] which yielded 13 points as they moved into the top three."

News and Star: Chris Beech (photo: Barbara Abbott)Chris Beech (photo: Barbara Abbott)

United won four consecutive games in December, against Salford, Bradford, Stevenage and Mansfield, before defeat to Forest Green and a draw with Bolton.

They have since moved to the top of League Two.

Beech was pipped to the October managerial award by Newport's Michael Flynn. The last Carlisle manager to win the monthly honour was Keith Curle for October 2016.

The last United player to win such an award was Danny Grainger for December 2018.

The winners will be announced on Friday morning. The player of the month panel comprises Sky Sports’ EFL expert Don Goodman, EFL communications director Mark Rowan and Sky Bet EFL trader Ivor Davies, with former Barnsley boss Danny Wilson joining that trio to judge the manager of the month winner.